Let’s start off this week’s newsletter a little differently. Watch the first 45 seconds of this video.
See how the video alternates between headshot clips of Grant and James talking to the camera and cinematic close-up shots of the coffee brewing in the Moka Pot?
The former is an example of an A-Roll footage; the latter, a B-Roll footage.
In this issue, I share with you how I used this simple film analogy that has been around for decades to supercharge my productivity. Hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll be able to do the same.
Understanding the B-Roll
If you didn’t catch the full context of how A-Roll and B-Roll work in films, I’ll give you a brief run-through here.
Your A-Roll is footage of the subject matter; direct shots of the main characters talking, for example. Your B-Roll is everything else. It’s the footage most vloggers use when they do voiceovers: walking into a coffee shop, doing the dishes, driving, etc.
Life is not so different.
- A-Roll: Taking A-Levels
- B-Roll: Going to classes, taking notes, tracking tests, co-curricular activities, making friends, hanging out, warding off aggressive monkeys
Okay, the last B-Roll isn’t applicable for everyone, but my point stands.
How does a film analogy apply to productivity?
Although I’m a self-professed 'Productivity Guru', I’m not nearly as delusional or idealistic as to expect myself to constantly be functioning in overdrive. We all have varying energy levels throughout the day and the trick is work around them.
When we are at our peak energy levels, that’s when we should shoot our A-Roll and do the most important tasks of the day. These tasks could be anything and range from studying a new topic to writing your Personal Statement or preparing for a class presentation next week.
I’m not making your A-Roll the focus here. I want to talk about the B-Roll. The small but impactful tasks you can do when you’re feeling like an absolute wasteman.
In this issue, I’ll cast my B-Roll publicly for your viewing pleasure and hopefully, it’ll be enough to inspire you to film yours too. Note that these are my personal footages, you do not (and should not!!) need to constrain yourself to them. Create your own shots and film them.
With that said, let’s get right into my B-Roll.
🎞️ 0/10 Energy
Write the day off. (Yes, I said that)
Let’s face it. We all have these days when we just can’t be bothered to do anything.
Give yourself permission to enjoy life. Immerse yourself in the process and truly enjoy the experience to the fullest. Turn on the Netflix series you’ve been dying to watch or dive headfirst into the YouTube rabbit hole.
It’s more productive to do this than to force yourself to half-heartedly work and end up spending five hours on a task you could very easily have completed in one. Not to mention the ensuing guilt, of course.
Write the day off.
P.S. - This was inspired by my productivity guru, Ali Abdaal’s Reitoff Principle. I’ll be writing on that in a few weeks’ time and giving it my own spin, but if you can’t wait, feel free to read more about the Reitoff Principle here!
🎞️ 1/10 Energy
- Calling home and catching up with friends virtually
- Taking a cold bath (always seems to reset me)
- Scrolling through Instagram for web design inspiration
🎞️ 2/10 Energy
- Mindlessly scrolling through Twitter in hopes that I stumble upon an interesting thread that I can then turn into 8 different articles (gotta always be on the lookout for opportunities to pump out that content, am I right?)
- Sorting through stale tasks on my Todoist and adding fresh ones
🎞️ 3/10 Energy
- Checking my email inbox and replying those that require a response
- Going through my LinkedIn feed, connect with new people, and approving new connections (connect with me on LinkedIn here!)
- Cleaning my room and work station
🎞️ 4/10 Energy
- Mindfully browsing YouTube and watching videos that I’ve saved to my Watch Later playlist
- Hunting for book recommendations on GoodReads, updating the books I’ve read, and occasionally writing a review on those books
- Browsing through some podcast shows I follow and adding potentially interesting episodes to my Spotify 'To-Listen' Playlist (article about my favorite podcasts coming up soon. Stay tuned! 😉)
🎞️ 5/10 Energy
- Write short notes on all of the articles and podcasts that have resonated with me
- Hauling a fresh batch of audiobooks
🎞️ 6/10 Energy
- Doing light academic work
- Intentionally browsing through tweets I’ve saved into my bookmarks and draft a potentially valuable thread for my audience
- Going through my Instapaper and reading articles I previously saved into the app
🎞️ 7/10 Energy
- Doing heavier academic work
- Scanning my todos and picking whichever one will take the least amount of time to accomplish
🎞️ 8/10 Energy
- Doing heavy academic work (learning new content etc)
- Going through my Notion Content Manager and working on the outline of some ideas
- Working on clients’ websites
🎞️ 9/10 Energy
- Doing heavy academic work
- Writing full-length book notes
- Drafting newsletter and articles
🎞️ 10/10 Energy
- Anything that strikes me fancy in the 'flow' state
There you go. That is a very brief run-through of my Productivity B-Roll. I work around my energy levels and my best work is produced at my peak energy levels, physically, mentally, creatively.
It goes without saying that I, too, have bloopers. Contrary to the legends and myths, I still find myself lying on the edge of my bed, watching videos of 'Fastest Workers Alive' or 'Best of The Voice Blind Auditions' for hours on end.
However, to maintain my reputation as a Productivity Guru, I’ve very conveniently cut those out of my B-Roll footages.
The whole point here is to have an outline of things you can do even though you feel like you’re in a slump. This way, you find an efficient way to work around your energy levels and procrastinate more productively.
With that said, I hope that this issue inspires you to film your own B-Roll footage and the practice adds value to your life in some shape, way, or form.
Have a great week ahead and see you in the next issue of Sunday Scoop!
- 📹 Video - This 30-minute long mini-documentary of the late Claire Wineland was worth every second, and then more. It moved me to tears multiple times. I particularly adored how she didn’t resort to some sob story or jump to the other extreme approach and delusionally paint life as a picture-perfect artwork. She acknowledged that life has sufferings and that’s what makes it so beautiful. It is just so inspiring to see a girl approaching death with so much life. Watch this.
2. 🎧 Podcast - Naval Ravikant on JRE, that’s the dream combo. This episode has to be one of the densest dispositions of wisdom ever.
Here are a few nuggets of wisdom from Naval.
Desire is a contract with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.
There are no happiness in material possessions, but lack of material possessions can make you very unhappy.
If you want to see who rules over you see who you’re not allowed to criticize.
Happiness is peace in motion and peace is happiness at rest.
Listen to the episode here.
Are you working around your energy levels? Could you be procrastinating more productively?
Tweet of the Week
💭Happiness is never tied to the next thing on your endless to-do list. It's the last thing off it.— Jia Shing (@JiaShingWee) September 3, 2020
Take a moment to appreciate how far you've come.
Take a moment to be grateful of all that you have.
Take a moment to simply be happy.
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